Current Studies

 

​​​​​The Center for Neurobeh​avioral Research focuses on understanding how disrupted brain functioning can give rise to em​otional and behavioral disorders.

Browse our current studies below to learn more​, or click here to participate in a study.

COVID-19 Isolation Study

This study will help researchers understand the effects of isolation and distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic on anxiety, and stress in children ages 7 to 17 years old. The tasks for this study are conducted online. Learn more about this study.

Developmental Study

This study is for children from 6 to 8 years old who are medically healthy, and have ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms, or who have no history of current or past psychiatric illness. The study may include questionnaires, brain imaging and computer and/or tabletop games. Learn more about this study.

Kids Helping Kids Study

If your child is 10 to 18 years old, medically healthy, and has emotional problems and/or behavioral problems (disruptiveness, anger, aggression) we would like to invite them to participate in this study. The study may include questionnaires, brain imaging and video games. Learn more about this study.

Mother and Infant Study

We are conducting a large study with pregnant women and new mothers. If you are pregnant, or have a child 4 years old or younger, we would like to hear more about your experiences. The goal is to learn more about infant development, particularly how the brain develops. Participants must be at least 14 years old and be pregnant or have a child 4 years old or younger. Learn more about this study.

Trauma Research Study

This study is examining cognitive and behavioral changes in children, 14 to 17 years old, who have been exposed to traumatic events, such as an accident, exposure to violence, or the sudden loss of a loved one. The study may include questionnaires, brain imaging, providing saliva samples and playing computer games. Learn more about this study.

Youth Emotional and Behavioral Problem Study

For this study, we are seeking children, 9 to 15 years old, to participate in a study on emotional and behavioral issues. Your child may be a good candidate if they struggle with emotional problems, like depression/sadness, anxiety, trauma and/or suffer from behavioral problems, like aggression/legal trouble, social problems, attention problems, conflict at home, substance abuse. Learn more about this study.

Brain Reorganization Across the Adult Lifespan Study

We are seeking volunteers, ages 19 to 88, to participate in a research study combining functional brain imaging with cognitive and behavioral testing to identify changes in brain networks as we age, and to predict cognitive decline and variability associated with aging. Learn more about this study.

Our Research

  • Maltreatment and Brain Development 
    In our work at Boys Town, we have identified at least 2 negative outcomes of maltreatment:

    • Increased responding to threat within the amygdala. This is associated with increased anxiety.
    • Decreased responding within behavior control brain regions within frontal cortex.  This is associated with increased impulsivity.

    We are now examining how interventions affect these regions and whether improvement in their functioning is linked to reduced anxiety/ impulsive behavior.

  • Substance Abuse and Brain Development 
    In our work at Boys Town, we have found that alcohol disrupts the development of regions involved in behavioral control and attention.

    This disruption may be associated with reduced emotion regulation.

    The impacts of substance abuse on these regions may increase the risk for youth to develop mood and anxiety disorders.

  • Brain Systems and Behavioral Problems 
    Anterior insula/inferior frontal gyrus and caudate (top image) are crucial in avoiding poor decisions.

    In work at Boys Town, we have shown that the greater the work of these regions is disrupted, the more likely that the youth is to show disruptive behavior.

    We are now examining how interventions affect these regions and whether improvement in their functioning is linked to reduced behavioral problems.

  • Helping the Brain through Intervention 
    In our on-going work, we see that medial prefrontal cortex, striatum and posterior cingulate cortex show improved reward signaling in youth who complete the Family Home Program℠.

    Reward signaling is important for making good decisions.

    Disrupted reward signaling has been associated with depression.
    These results are still preliminary. We hope to have more information by the end of 2018.